Snow snow snow

So last week we had an impromptu break from some of our storytimes due to being closed for that little blizzard that visited the Midwest; thanks, Linus. Because we were closed during the time I’d normally do my Monday session, but not for my Thursday session, I decided to switch out the theme. I hate working hard on planning a theme and craft and sometimes writing up my own rhymes and such to only do it one day, ya know? 😛

Anyhow, so instead of doing Dinosaurs (hence that little chompy dude at the end of my last post) I did ….

wait for it…

SNOW!

Surprise, right? hah

The books I read were:

Snow by Steve Sanfield
Danny’s First Snow by Leonid Gore 
Winter is for Snow by Robert Neubecker

I wasn’t in love with the Sanfield book, but it worked well, the other two though, I quite liked. Danny’s First Snow has adorable, soft illustrations and is imaginative and fun. They talk about seeing animals in the snow and I liked that though the shapes were recognizable, they weren’t too obvious so it was fun for the kids to figure it out. Winter is for Snow was also a fun read. The story follows a brother and sister who have two very different views of snow and winter. One voice is grumpy and pouty while the other reads wonderfully cheerful and excited. It also has a nice little message about trying new things. The brother is convinced that winter is terrible and cold and no fun and wants to stay inside, but the sister knows better; she knows that winters is great for sledding and snowballs and all sorts of fun stuff. Eventually the brother caves and tries it and…has fun! *gasp*

One of the action rhymes I did was a short little rhyme about sledding

Sledding Fun

Climb, climb, climb – up the hill of snow. (mimic climbing)
Jump on our sleds (jump!)
Down we go! Weeee! (pretend to slide)

We did several rounds of this and before each round we decided how we were going to sled down the hill; sometimes we went down slowly, sometimes super fast (usually super fast), sometimes backwards or on our bellies like penguins. It was really fun and a good way to burn off some energy if you have a rowdy group.

I also did I’m a little snowman which I got from a preschool express page that has bunches of great snow rhymes and songs.

I’m a Little Snowman
Tune: “I’m A Little Teapot”

I’m a little snowman
Short and fat,
Here are my buttons,
Here is my hat.
When the sun comes out,
I run away
Before I slowly
Melt away!

Since we had a smaller crowd and it was only one session, I broke out something extra awesome for our craft, MARSHMALLOWS!
We has some left over marshmallows from a previous event so I figured I’d put them to use and we made marshmallow snowmen which the kids loved. Unfortunately I didn’t get and good pictures, but here’s a great example.

I was a tiny bit worried that the kids would try to just eat all the marshmallows, but before we moved to the craft room, I had them pinky promise that they wouldn’t eat the craft. This brought lots of giggles from the crowd, why would one EAT a CRAFT? I have to say, I did not see one single kid eat one single marshmallow! they were so great! I mean, there was nothing really wrong with the marshmallow, I was just a little worried because I had put them out on the craft tables in out usual craft trays which often house crayons and stickers and glue sticks and are touched by lots of little fingers so they aren’t exactly something I’d eat off of.

Overall, it was a pretty good storytime and an excellent craft.

Dinosaurs will have to wait a bit longer because next week is all sorts of mushy but I promise I’ll eventually get to those big lizards.

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Mittens in the Mitten

It’s certainly becoming mitten weather in the Mitten State, what better time to do a mitten storytime?

We got a good dusting of snow recently and I wanted to incorporate that into a storytime theme,  but it’s still mid November so I didn’t want to do anything too wintery and that’s when I decided upon mittens! They’re worn in cold weather and are great for making snowballs! 😉

The books I read were:

One Mitten by Kristine O’Connell George

The Missing Mitten Mystery by Steven Kellogg

The Mitten by Jan Brett

Three Little Kittens by Paul Galdone

 

Ok, I didn’t actually read the last book because for both of my sessions this week, we had a super small turnout of around 10-15 as opposed to our typical 40-50  and the groups were quite subdued. I had to really work to get them to interact at times. It always nice when they all sit quietly while we read, but it rough when you’re trying to do rhymes and fingerplays and you’ve got a tiny group of sleepy eyed kids just staring back. hah. This weather sure has calmed them down.

I did one rhyme (I only did it with one group because the other group was so tough to get to interact) and one flannel board. With the flannel board I actually got a pretty good response and ended up milking it as long as I could by asking them lots of questions about the pieces and really having them think about lots of the details. I found a rhyme online about ten mittens and I used some mini clothespins that we had in the craft room and some yarn and printed out / laminated some mitten clipart and made myself a little mini clothesline for my mittens!

 

10806465_827489539374_1093198995800018272_n

 

Ten warm mittens

Ten warm mittens, hanging on the line,
One blows away and then there are nine
Nine warm mittens, one without a mate,
A squirrel carries one away and that leaves eight.
Eight warm mittens, just eight not eleven,
One gets buried in the snow and that leaves seven.
Seven warm mittens, which one do you pick?
I’ll pick the red one and that leaves six.
Six warm mittens, put one on to try.
Then you take it from the line and that leaves five.
Five warm mittens, we had ten before!
A fluffy bunny needs one and that leaves four!  
Four warm mittens, two for you and two for me,
I lost one on the ski slope and that leaves three.
Three warm mittens, looking very new,
One falls into the mud and that leaves two.
Two warm mittens, drying in the sun,
A bird comes down and snatches it and that leaves one.
One warm mitten, what good is one?
A little mouse can have a bed, and that leaves none!

 

Originally when I put the mittens on the board, they were in random order, all mixed up, then we did the rhyme and I took them down, one by one. Then, I put one of each pair up with an empty clothespin between them and I asked the kids to help me match my mittens. I had them help by calling out the number of the matching mitten to the one I held up. For example, I held up a blue mitten and the matching mitten was the 3rd mitten on the board so my mitten matched mitten #3. it was kinda tricky, but they caught on pretty fast and it’s excellent practice for counting, matching, and comparing! Yay! Secret math! I made sure to have some mittens that were similar but not the same so that we could discuss. “The blue mitten with zig zag stripes does NOT match the red mitten with zig zag stripes, but what is similar about them? The red mitten with zig zag stripes does NOT match the plain red mitten, but what is similar about them?” Activities like that are always good for building their language skills. THEN, we went a whole step further (which was probably a bit beyond their skill level still, but not too far) since we had the mittens matched up, we counted by TWOS! They’re a smart bunch.

 

The other rhyme I had prepared but only used for one session was a basic fingerplay. I actually had trouble remembering BOTH my rhymes this week, maybe my brain is slowing with the cold weather, but even with a few round of practice, I had to read my sheet much more than normal. boo.

Mitten Finger play
by Lucia Kemp Henry

Here is a mitten, (hold up one hand)
A snug, fuzzy one- (rub palms together)
With a place for my fingers (wiggle 4 fingers)
And a place for my thumb (wiggle thumb)
Here are two mittens, (hold up two hands)
A colorful sight. (hands back and forth)
One for the left hand (hold up left hand)
One for the right. (hold up right hand)
Here are OUR mittens, (hold up two hands)
As soft as can be (stroke the back of one hand)
A warm pair for you (point to the neighbor)
And a warm pair for me (point to yourself)

 

For our craft, I did a very simple design a mitten craft. I printed mitten outlines on colored cardstock and gave them crayons and foam stickers and let them go to town. Again, very open ended craft that gives them the freedom to do whatever they want but is also very simple and easy to prepare for staff, always good.

I enjoyed this theme and wish the crowds were a bit bigger because I always like to feel like I got my money’s worth out of a theme. 😛

 

Soon I’ll be posting about an underwater storytime we did with a craft that I loved but worried would be too much for the kids. Stay tuned!

 

Funny Bunny Storytime

Little Peter Cottontail, Hopping down the cotton trail, Hippety hoppity Easter’s on it’s way!

Easter is right around the corner so it’s a great time to do an “Easter” themed storytime. As I’ve said before, I try to steer clear of getting too immersed in most holidays because of religious or cultural reasons, but that being said, I do think it’s good to acknowledge the holiday and maybe expose people to it who may have not heard of said holiday before. Yay learning!

With Easter, I’ve decided to focus on, what else, BUNNIES! I love bunnies and have had them as pets for many many years; you can see a picture of me and my current bunny, Ginger, on my About Me page. 🙂

 

I changed the format up a bit for this storytime, I have had crafts that I’ve done that I thought would have been cute for them to have during storytime, but it’s been too difficult for me to figure out how to make that work, but today while I was setting up, a co-worker said something to me about doing the craft first and I thought “you know, that might actually work for this particular craft!” So, I tried it! I had them come in as usual and we all sat down and chatted for a bit but then I told them that we were going to go make something that we could use during storytime, they seemed pretty thrilled about that. We made Bunny Noses!

 

bunny nose

 

I had them make their noses and then I passed out our egg shakers; I talked about Easter eggs and how the Easter bunny hides eggs, and then we practiced hopping around the room with our eggs in one hand and noses in the other using this rhyme:

 

Hip hip hippety hop Hippety hippety hop
We’ll hop and hop around the room
Until it’s time to STOP!

Hip hip hippety hop Hippety hippety hop
hippetyhippetyhippetyhippety
Hippety hippety hop
We’ll hop and hop around the room
Until it’s time to STOP!

It’s a pretty fun rhyme because you can improvise however you want; it can be as long or as short as you want and all you have to do is ad a few hippity hops here and there or change up the order before you shout STOP! It reminds me of a combination of Simon says and red light green light. You basically say random versions of hop or hippity hop and the kids jump around like goofballs and then freeze when you say stop. Not only is it a fun way to transition from one activity to the next, but it helps get out some pent up energy,and also helps kids to learn. I also thought that this would be a fun little game to play either at the end or if the kids seemed a bit wiggly during the stories but luckily, we didn’t need to use it. There are lots of books and website that talk about the concept of play to learn, one site I enjoy is Help My Kid LearnI stumbled across it while looking for reading related activities that are both fun and educational and have found a wealth of information there. “One of the ways children learn is through play. A child who is playing is refining learning skills that continue to develop during childhood and beyond.

“Pretend play” is important for developing your child’s language skills. Children make up their own games, but playing games with others helps their concentration and social skills. Play can also help to show what children know and understand.”

So hopping around like bunnies isn’t just fun, it’s helping them develop their listening skills, balance and motor skills, as well as social skills, but it also super fun, I mean, do we really need an excuses to make noise and look even more adorable? NOPE.  🙂

After we got our hops out, I had them hop the eggs back to the bucket and we sat down for our first story. I started both sessions off with “Looking for Easter” by Dori Chaconas. I loved this book because not only does it have super adorable illustrations, but it’s an excellent non-religious Easter story that still has a great message and ending.

Speaking of great messages and endings, one of the other books I read was a great take on the classic story “Little Bunny Foo Foo: Told and Sung by the Good Fairy” by Paul Brett Johnson. I wasn’t actually too thrilled about the illustration style, personally, but it’s a great book; very colorful and eye catching and I like the way it was written.  The kids really liked seeing the trouble that Little Bunny Foo Foo kept getting into and laughed surprisingly hard at the end….even though I’m pretty sure they’re too young to catch the pun. 😉

We also practiced our counting with “10 Easter Egg Hunters: a Holiday Counting Book” by Janet Schulman which was fun but kind of difficult to read because it’s small and hard to see for a large group and it’s also super tempting for the kids to run up and point out where the eggs are on each page. I did have trouble with that in both of my sessions, but all in all, worth it since the kids really liked it.

And last, but not least, we read“A Boy and his Bunny” by Sean BryanSUCH a cute book. The only thing I don’t like about it is the pacing. The story wants to be read quickly, but then you don’t have a chance to show the kids the pictures for very long but if you take the time to do so, you kind of lose the rhythm of the story. It has a companion book as well that I was almost tempted to read with it, but alligators don’t have much to do with Easter, so I passed. 😛

Aside from the 4 books we read, we put out bunny noses to good use with a couple other rhymes. I saw a super cute rhyme online that I thought would be fun for the kids to act out, but it was only one stanza:

Funny little bunny
Sat on a stump
Flicked his floppy little ears
And then he gave a jump!

So I took that and ran with it and made up a few more actions that bunnies do and then also used it as a way to let the kids suggest different activities with some fill in the blank verses.

Funny little bunny
Sat on a stump
Twitched his little nose
And then he gave a jump!

Funny little bunny
Sat on a stump
Wiggled his fluffy tail And then he gave a jump!

Funny little bunny
Sat on a stump
Stomped his great big feet And then he gave a jump!

Funny little bunny
Sat on a stump
(encourage kids to shout out jump)
And then he gave a jump!

 I think that my groups really like being able to make up parts to the rhymes and activities more than just listening to them and doing the actions as they hear them. Half the time it ends up being a yelling mess of suggested actions, but that’s ok, it’s still fun. I also like to make up super random or weird actions because the kids think it’s hilarious. For example, in this rhyme we hopped, and twitched, and wiggled as bunnies are wont to do, but then I also had them swim and skip and do other things that bunnies totally don’t do, or that kids don’t think bunnies do (I’ve seen some bunnies do some pretty silly things) and those always get some good giggles in response.

Not only did I change things up a bit with the craft, but I also catered my welcome and closing rhymes to the theme. I like to do that sometimes just to mix things up, though I do also like having a constant in my storytimes so I don’t change it with every theme.

For this week I modified some rhymes I saw online to fit what I needed. My welcome rhyme was:

Bunny Bunny

Bunny Bunny, hop real low
Bunny Bunny, say hello
Bunny Bunny, hope up high
Bunny Bunny, touch the sky
Bunny Bunny, wiggle your nose
Bunny Bunny, stomp your toes
Bunny Bunny, hop around
Bunny Bunny, please sit down.

And for my goodbye rhyme I used:

I saw a Little Rabbit

I saw a little rabbit go hop hop hop
I saw his great big ears go flop flop flop
I saw his little nose go twitch twitch twitch
I saw his furry paw for itch itch itch
I wished the little rabbit would sit and stay
but that little rabbit had to hop away.

I ended up giving out all 4 of my books this week so I think that’s a good sign that they liked them and I saw lots of hopping with whiskers and cute little noses after as well so I’m counting this one as a success.

 

Now, next week. I’m thinking I still want to stick with spring-ish themes for a while because mother nature still seems to be confused as to what season it is, but after doing bunnies/easter, rain/weather, and flowers, I have some ideas brewing, but I’m not entirely sure where else to take it.
Guess it will be another surprise!

 

hoppy_easter_grande

Spring has sprung!

Sort of.

Well, technically it has, thought I’m still not feeling very springy what with the cold still here. BUT! Snow is melting and the sun is peeking out more and more often so it’s a good sign! I chose to do a spring storytime this week not only because it’s now officially spring, but in hopes that maybe it’ll encourage mother nature to get with the program and show us some April showers and May flowers.  (fingers crossed!)

This week I decided to start my storytime with an action rhyme instead of a book. I usually like to start chatting after our welcome rhyme about things that relate to the week’s theme, but this time I thought that instead of just chatting, I’d do a rhyme to give them some hints about the theme. On Monday I did “Tiny Little Seeds” first, but then on Thursday, I switched it up a bit and did “The Rain” I found the “Tiny Little Seeds” here and modified it ever so slightly for my use. and “The Rain” I have seen in many places with some slightly different versions. The versions I used are below.

 


 

Tiny Little Seeds

Tiny little seeds so small and round, (show how small with your fingers)
Are sleeping quietly under ground. (pretend to sleep)
Down come the raindrops  
sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle.  (sprinkle your fingers like rain)
Out comes the rainbow,  (move arms in arch like a rainbow)
twinkle, twinkle, twinkle.  (twinkle your fingers)
Little brown seeds way down below,  (squat down and make yourself small)
Up through the earth they grow, grow, grow.  (wiggle upwards)
Little green leaves come one by one.  (poke arms and hands out as leaves)
They hold up their heads and look at the sun. (look upwards at the sun) 


The Rain

Pitter patter raindrops falling from the sky (flutter fingers down like rain)
Here is my umbrella (cup one hand over pointer finger from your other hand)
to keep me warm and dry (hold over head)
When the rain is over, the sun begins to glow (make a big circle with arms)
And Little flowers begin to bud (cup hands together)
And  grow and grow and grow! (move arms up and spread hands apart slowly)


After our first rhyme I started in with the books. I had so many good ones to pick from that even after narrowing it down, I still ended up with four! Since the rhyme on Monday transitioned pretty well into the story, I first read “One Little Seed” by Eric Greenstein. It’s a pretty short book, and quite small, but it’s still pretty cute.  It reminds me of an active rhyme and I guess a few of the kids thought so too because I caught them acting out some of the words as I read them and then read “999 Frogs Wake Up” by Ken Kimura next. On Thursday, I reversed the order. I’ve always known that not only do the books and rhymes that you pick make a difference, but the order in which you do them can drastically change the feel and flow and that an order that works for one group might work differently for another. You’d think that that is pretty common sense, but I was surprised at just how drastically it can change things.

 


Five Spring Flowers

5 spring flowers, all in a row. (hold up 5 fingers)
The first one says (hold up 1 finger)
“we need rain to grow” (use fingers to show rain)
The second one says (hold up 2 fingers)
“oh yes, we need water” (nod head yes)
The third one says (hold up 3 fingers)
“it’s getting hotter!” (fan face with hand)
The fourth one says (hold up 4 fingers)
“I see clouds in the sky!” (point up)
The fifth one says (hold up 5 fingers)
“I wonder why!” (shrug shoulders and hold up hands questioningly)
Then…BOOM! went the thunder (add cloud to board)
And CRASH! went the lightning (add lightning bolt)
That springtime storm was very frightening (hug self as if scared)
But the flowers weren’t worried, oh no, no, no! (shake head)
Because the rain helped them to grow, grow, grow! (raise arms as if growing)

via Miss Mary Liberry


After the flannel board, I read“Fran’s Flower” by Lisa Bruce. I really liked this story because it’s cute and silly and the kids really got into it. Fran tries to make a flower grow by giving it her favorite foods like ice cream and pizza, and a cheeseburger. Obviously those things don’t work and the kids were giggling and shaking their heads at Fran’s silliness. In both my Monday and Thursday sessions, the kids all gasped when we got to the last page and saw the giant flower. Very cute read.

The last book I read was “Flowers and Showers A Spring Counting Book” by Rebecca Fjelland DavisThis one was also lots of fun. The kids got pretty into it and helped count out loud and liked taking guesses at what we’d count on the next page. It’s a very engaging read that’s also quick and easy.

When we finished reading we moved on to craft time! I think I have to cave and do a craft with each storytime. I love it, the parents love it, why not? My main reason for not doing a craft every time had been that I didn’t want it to end up as fluff material but I was also concerned that I wouldn’t be able to fit all the reading activities I wanted to do AND a craft into each session and I didn’t want to have to cut the books or rhymes to make room. What I’ve been doing lately though is just planning a regular length storytime and adding the craft to the end and though it does make it longer, it hasn’t seemed to have had a negative impact and we often have people come in after just for the craft which is totally fine too!

I’m looking forward to incorporating other extension activities that aren’t just crafts as well. I’m hoping to be able to do some sensory tubs but that will take some planning and require some supplies that we don’t already have so I just have to wait and see how that pans out.